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08.12.06
Providing for surfers and the environment

A Cornish company is both providing for the surfer and protecting the environment with help from Business Link Devon and Cornwall's EVOKE programme which supports young high-growth businesses that have the potential to become world class market leaders in their field.

Finisterre (www.finisterreuk.com), which operates from an energy efficient unit at Wheal Kitty, St Agnes, was founded four years ago by Tom Kay who designed and developed, with the help of fabric technologists, the first technical fleece aimed at surfers when they get out of the sea on an icy day.

Business Link's initial involvement with the fledgling company was spearheaded by personal business adviser Clare Whitney who sourced support for a marketing consultant, prepared a business review and advised on finance, ICT and international trade.

Through a Business Link mentor, who worked extensively on the financial planning that put the business on a sound footing, the EVOKE grant then provided high level strategic and financial expertise.

With web-based sales and e-commerce being its main routes to market, EVOKE also helped the company to build a state-of-the-art Customer Relationship Management system that is currently being installed to support a marketing drive.

Finisterre, which held its first Surf Industry Symposium in October, is the first European surf brand to join '1% for the Planet', a global initiative whose members give at least 1% of annual revenues to approved environmental organisations - in Finisterre's case Surfers Against Sewage and the Marine Conservation Society.

The company, which has grown to employ four, also this year launched its own environmental initiative, 'Offset the PLC' (Product Life Cycle).

"No longer do we have the luxury of remaining fence-sitters as far as the destruction of our environment is concerned," explained Tom Kay. "As well as challenging convention with our product, we are also now challenging traditional business practice with this initiative which aims to encourage more responsibility to be taken for the intangible environmental footprint left by what we consume as consumers and what we produce as businesses."

After analysing the life cycle of all Finisterre products, the process identifies the three worst areas in terms of environmental footprint. The company then gives researched environmental groups a percentage of the product's retail price - helping to offset the product's life cycle.

Tom Kay described EVOKE's support as "fantastic" and added: "EVOKE encourages us to be very focused in our thoughts and to concentrate on the main growth issues for our future business direction. This is all against a background of putting the environment first and drawing attention to wider environmental issues in a market where we are in fierce competition with high street, mass volume fashion brands that do not cater specifically for the surfer."

Finisterre now has access to an array of other Business Link services for the rapid advancement of its business and to provide a foundation for its growth.

Its new catalogue features six R & D-led technical garments, including base layers, mid-layers and shell jackets, and is an inspirational and powerful piece of literature that explains the ethos of pushing cold water frontiers for surfing and also draws attention to the company's environmental credentials and vision.

Finisterre carries out extensive research and development in creating its garments that use the highest quality materials and finishings available and can be realistically described as being in the forefront of engineering. The firm works with experts at one of the world's leading textile research centres and the core function of each garment is relentlessly scrutinised, tested and resolved. A big focus for the brand is working with ground-breaking manufacturers of recycled and recyclable fabrics.

EVOKE manager Richard Adams said: "This company is just the sort of business that the programme is designed to help as it offers a variety of advice, assistance and support to entrepreneurs and inventors with big ideas that have the potential to develop into cutting edge technologies and grow their businesses into multi million pound operations and the next generation of market leaders.

"It provides access to the highest quality private sector expertise that will help get the new product or service into the marketplace as quickly as possible and realise its full business potential, and also links innovators with academic institutions for support and joint working in areas such as research, testing, endorsement and further development - a vital key to ensure the future success of many of the ventures."

For further information contact Carolyn Daw of The Marketing PR Company on 01566 771863 or email: cdaw@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested Business Link Devon and Cornwall through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web www.bldc.co.uk and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business. Additionally, it provides impartial business advice and support through a network of partner organisations, which it co-ordinates, and a register of independent business practitioners.

Business Link for Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the region under contract from the South West of England Regional Development Agency, which was established by government in 1999 to promote the long-term economic success of the region. It does this by working with others to give people the skills they need, encourage enterprise, improve infrastructure, help communities with regeneration and promote the strengths of the region. Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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